A ROYAL Navy captain from Southsea was involved in the daring mission to free an Italian cargo ship captured by pirates, it has emerged.
Captain Gerry Northwood, 49, played a leading role in the operation from the naval supply ship RFA Fort Victoria, defence sources have told The News.
Royal Marine commandos met no resistance when they boarded Italian merchant ship the Montecristo to free it from a gang of pirates who had seized the vessel on Monday.
The navy freed the 23 crew members who had taken refuge in a secure panic room aboard the ship, and apprehended 11 pirates in the raid on Tuesday.
Capt Northwood, who is a former commanding officer of the Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS Liverpool, received an OBE last year for his role in counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia.
He was recently based at the Ministry of Defence as head of the navy press relations desk.
But he left that post in July to go back to counter-piracy missions like the one carried out by RFA Fort Victoria earlier this week.